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Full text of "My Country And My People"

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WOMAN'S LIFE                    151

forced upon him by a more distinguished family. Or one of the
families might move to another city and they might never see
each other again. Or even if the young man sojourning abroad
should remain faithful, yet a war might come between, and
there might be interminable waiting and delay. For the
young maiden waiting in the secluded chamber there was only
sadness and longing. If the girl were a real and passionate lover
she became seriously lovesick (which is amazingly common in
Chinese love stories), with all light and gladness gone from her
eyes, and her parents, alarmed at the situation, would then
begin to make inquiries and save her life by arranging the
desired marriage, and so after all they might live happily
ever after.

Love then was mixed with tears and sadness and longing in
Chinese thought, and the effect of this seclusion of women was
to introduce a plaintive, languorous tone in all Chinese love
poetry. Any Chinese love song after the T'ang Dynasty is
invariably one of longing, resignation and infinite sadness.
Often it is the song of the secluded maiden pining for her lover,
or kweiyiian, or that of the forsaken wife, cKifu, both of which
were, strange to say, extremely favourite topics with the male
poets.

Consonant with the general negative attitude toward life,
Chinese songs of love are songs of absence, of departure, of
frustrated hopes and unquenchable longing, of rain and the
twilight and the empty chamber and the "cold bed," of solitary
regret and hatred against man's inconstancy and the castaway
fan in autumn, of departing spring and faded blossoms and
fading beauty, of the flickering candlelight and winter nights
and general emaciation, of self-pity and approaching death.
This mood finds its typical expression in Taiyii's poem before
her approaching death, after she knew that her cousin was
going to become Paoyii's wife, lines that are memorable for
their infinite sadness:

This year I am burying the dropped blossoms,
Next year who is going to bury me?

But sometimes the girl may be lucky and may become a